PORTAGE PARK — For 2013, Melissa and Joe Basilone have made no small plans.
The owners of Thrift & Thrive, a resale shop on the far western edge of Portage Park, have vowed not to buy anything new for a whole year.
“We'd been talking about it for years,” Basilone said. “But we decided to do it on Dec. 31. We wanted to prove the point that you can live a thrifty life and thrive.”
Their resolution includes some exceptions for food — no Dumpster diving for this family of four that includes 2-year-old Evan and 7-year-old Liam — and personal hygiene products.
“There have definitely been moments when we’ve both thought ‘wait, what have we gotten ourselves into?’” Melissa Basilone said.
For example, Melissa Basilone loves tissue with lotion – especially during the winter months when living with small children means a perpetual runny nose – but she decided against buying some at Costco, choosing instead to use handkerchiefs, including some she made out of old dress shirts.
“We want to inspire people not to give into mass consumerism,” said Melissa Basilone, who opened the store after she was laid off from her job as an editor at a publishing house.
Other exceptions to the resolution include car and home repair and maintenance and – perhaps most important for Liam and Evan – one present each from Santa Claus at Christmas.
“It just fits in line with our business, and our lifestyle is already pretty green,” Basilone said. “I think it is going to be fun and a great challenge.”
The Basilones are aiming to fulfill their pledge by bartering, borrowing, fixing, repurposing the things they need, rather than reaching for their wallet.
And when they have no choice but to buy something, the couple promises to shop local and spend as little as possible.
The Basilones are chronicling their efforts to keep their resolution on their store’s blog, which promises to keep a running tally of everything they spend this year. Marc Menet, a freelance cinematographer, who lives down the street from the store, will capture their efforts for a documentary.
The Basilones hope their resolution will draw attention — and shoppers — to the store at 6025 W. Irving Park Road, which is within walking distance of their house.
Joe Basilone left his job in September with Target to focus on Thrift & Thrive full time. Eventually, he envisions the store launching a chain of thrift stores across the city.
This spring, the store plans to take over their building’s basement and offer more items for sale. The expansion will double the size of the store, which is now crammed full of everything with toys, clothes, jewelry and furniture.
The store, which opened a year and a half ago, has seen its fortunes rise along with other stores along Irving Park Road near Austin Avenue. The Patio Theater reopened after being shuttered for 10 years at about the same time as Thrift & Thrive opened for business.
In addition, a new coffee shop across Irving Park Road, Regulus, has drawn a devoted following. The three businesses have begun working together to draw shoppers to the area, and formed the Irving Austin Business District.
“There are a lot of young families moving to the area,” Melissa Basilone said. “We want to keep the momentum going, and make it a better place to live and work.”